Friday, October 17, 2008

New exhibit: Olof Larsell, Biologist, Anatomist, and Historian: A Noble Quest

OHSU Historical Collections & Archives announces the opening of its new exhibit, Olof Larsell, Biologist, Anatomist, and Historian: A Noble Quest, now on display in the main lobby of the OHSU Library.

Olof Larsell was born in Rättvik, Sweden, in 1886, and moved with his family to the United States in 1891. He obtained a degree in biology from McMinnville College (now Linfield College) and completed a doctorate in the biological sciences under the direction of zoologist William A. Locy at Northwestern University. During the summers of 1913 and 1914, Larsell worked with C. Judson Herrick, then professor of neurology at the University of Chicago; Herrick encouraged Larsell to focus his research on comparative neurology and, in particular, cerebellar anatomy. Larsell’s first paper on the cerebellum was published in 1923; at the time of his death in 1964, he was completing the last chapter of a definitive, three-volume monograph on The Comparative Anatomy and Histology of the Cerebellum.

Larsell joined the University of Oregon Medical School as professor of anatomy in 1921 and served in that capacity until his mandatory retirement at the age of 65 in 1952. He went on to spend two years as professor of neuroanatomy at the University of Minnesota before returning to Portland to resume his research at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Many alums and senior faculty on campus still remember Olof Larsell, whose classes they recall as either “inspiring” or “awful.” His magisterial work on medical history, The Doctor in Oregon, remains the most comprehensive work in the field.

To learn more about Olof Larsell and his remarkable achievements, visit the physical display in the Main Library or the virtual exhibit on the Historical Collections & Archives web site.

Materials will be on display through December 2008. Items were drawn from throughout the collections, including the Olof Larsell Papers (Accession No. 1999-011), the Pacific Northwest Archives, and the recently acquired Casey Bush Robert Dow Collection. Questions about the exhibit can be sent to homref @

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